Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GCN) - 1:38 - Alastair Campbell
Speed run of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes in 22 segments, completed on January 6 2008. Available in seven versions: low/normal/high quality DivX, and normal/high/insane/low quality H.264 MPEG-4.
I'd like to dedicate this run to the late Mark Haigh-Hutchinson.
Several factors contributed to my attempting this playthrough. Firstly, having helped to run Speed Demos Archive for over a year by this point, it was something of an embarrassment to me to be the only administrator never to have had a run listed on the site. Secondly, the training I'd received and the new tricks I'd found in the process of executing my "banned", out-of-bounds abusing low% run in Summer 2006 made me realise that the incumbent 1:43 any% could be beaten without too much difficulty. I also knew that I was the only player likely to attempt to improve this, because nobody else has ever seemed terribly interested in taming this game. Thirdly, a post on the SDA forums claiming that skipping the Grapple Beam requires one of the hardest tricks ever performed in a speed run annoyed me intensely, because this is simply not the case. Finally, the emotional problems with which I was having to deal in the last few months of 2007 left me desperate for something in which I could immerse myself. While running Echoes is probably not the most sensible activity to undertake when one is struggling to maintain one's sanity, it is nevertheless arguably better than sitting around doing nothing.
Originally I wanted to have a crack at the single-segment any% category, because I felt this would be easier to beat than the segmented, and would probably have been more fun. My intent was to try to demonstrate that the above "impossible" Grapple skip trick in Sanctuary could be performed with sufficient consistency to make a single-segment Grapple skip run possible. I practised for a while, but Boost Guardian caused me problems, even with four energy tanks. I also found that landing on the robot in Grand Abyss wasn't as easy as I remembered — it seemed my aptitude for timing this trick had atrophied in the 18 months since my previous run. Realising that a lot of restarts would have been required, I chickened out and decided to have a bash at the any% segmented category instead.
The 1:43 by 'Silent Echo', while a revolutionary and excellent run for its time, had a well documented set of shortcomings. A number of very cheap strategies to improve it had been known for a while — most notably a couple of route changes in Sanctuary and the use of Screw Attack to defeat the final bosses would have saved about two minutes. I felt that by incorporating some smaller time savers and playing more smoothly I ought to be able to grab another minute. My initial goal was 1:40. Assuming 20 segments for the run, that meant I would need to gain 3 seconds per segment on average (a target which quickly proved to be far too conservative). In a game such as this, scientific methods are vital, so I created a spreadsheet for each segment and manually timed the old run, noting the number of frames in between cutscenes and performing a similar process for my own attempts. If possible, I wanted to go faster in every single segment, a desire which I almost, but not quite, fulfilled.
The route is largely the same as the old run, skipping both Dark Suit and Grapple Beam. I open up the gate blocking the Watch Station portal before collecting Screw Attack, which allows me a faster way to return to the light world after the Quadraxis fight, saving 10 seconds or so compared to the previous run. In the same segment, I take the much faster route suggested by XtraX to leave Sanctuary, saving a further 25 seconds; routewise, everything else is as it was before. I considered whether a faster Sky Temple Key route might exist and juggled a few alternatives, but decided eventually that the existing route was probably as good as it was going to get. I also used two more segments than the previous run, saving in Great Temple before the Alpha Splinter fight, and again in Great Temple before heading to collect the final Sky Temple Key in the dark version of Samus's landing site. This save is so cheap that it seemed criminal not to use it every time I passed through the room.
In previous Echoes attempts, runners have made use of the checkpoint after Emperor Ing to achieve a fast Dark Samus 3/4 fight, then edited the videos together to make it look as though these two bosses have been beaten without retrying. I have never liked this practice — it seems inherently deceitful. In this playthrough, I have presented these two boss fights as separate videos. Since players can try Dark Samus 3/4 as many times as they like with no time penalty (although they are not able to save the game to a memory card at this checkpoint), this counts as a segment as far as I am concerned. I have listed this run as being 22 segments.
This run was played on a GameCube, and the European version of the game was used. There are a few differences between the North American and European versions, but they are not significant enough to warrant separate categories. PAL Echoes is a PAL-60 only game — since my DVD recorder is not capable of capturing a PAL-60 signal, I booted the game on a North American GameCube using a Datel Freeloader disc, and captured an NTSC signal instead. This does not affect gameplay in any way.
Echoes is quite buggy. Some of these bugs are decidedly advantageous to a runner, others equally definitely not. Readers unfamiliar with Echoes chicanery may benefit from the following quick overview of some of the more salubrious glitches I exploited on my way to liberating Planet Aether in under 100 minutes. All of these tricks are documented in detail at metroid2002.com, of course.
- Instant Unmorph
Under conditions of camera obstruction the game may be persuaded to unmorph Samus without showing her third person unmorph animation. This saves time in and of itself, but it also paves the way for another, more interesting bug.
- BSJ (Bomb Space Jump)
If a bomb jump is performed in such a way that an instant unmorph occurs while Samus is still airborne, there is a very short time window in which the player may jump in mid-air by pressing B (and then space jump, if the space jump has been collected). By chaining together bomb jumps and space jumps in this way, more than three jumps' worth of height can be achieved.
- Roll Jump
Again, this makes use of the instant unmorph jump glitch, but for distance rather than height. Rolling off a ledge in ball form and timing an unmorph such that the camera is obstructed by the ledge will lead to an instant unmorph, and a double jump then becomes available. Since rolling is faster than walking, pressing the L and R buttons will "freeze" Samus's jump speed at her rolling rate rather than her walking rate. This momentum gain allows much longer distances to be crossed.
- Dash Jump
This is another distance technique which makes use of pressing L and R buttons to freeze Samus's momentum during a jump. This time, the speed gain is provided by the extra lateral acceleration created by dashing off a foe or object. Dash jumps may be performed using combat lock-ons or, more commonly, scan visor lock-ons.
This is a glitch which has been known for a while, but never used in an SDA-listed run before. While morphed, pressing unmorph and shoot simultaneously will cause a shot to be fired before the unmorph animation begins rather than afterwards, saving time. This is especially useful for opening doors and activating portals quickly before collecting the Boost Ball (however once boost is acquired it is often quicker to stay morphed and lay bombs instead). It may be used both for beams and missiles.
- Ghetto Jump
Jumping while pushing against a slanted surface increases jump height.
- Underwater Dash
Before collecting the Gravity Boost it is possible to hold L and a direction and then hit B and hold R together to obtain great speed and distance underwater. This is a speed trick in and of itself, but also allows lower Torvus' sequence to be broken.
Before I start on the segment-by-segment stuff, I will just mention a few people. In my 17% run I had a slew of contributors to thank because it was very much me running the game under the direction of others; this time, however, I did nearly everything by myself, so great swathes of fawning gratitude are unnecessary. Thanks, Sparky, Nate and Radix, for taking an interest. I'd especially like to thank Red Scarlet for keeping me company on IRC over Christmas and New Year while I tackled everything from Spider Guardian onwards, and for pushing me to get 1:38 rather than 1:39. As always, Scarlet was full of suggestions, none of which I used — sorry, Scarlet, but I appreciated them anyway !
- Segment 1 - Temple Grounds
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 0 seconds
Saved: 9.4 seconds
I was always going to be faster than the previous run in this segment, because I use the Sacred Path scan dashes which can save up to 10 seconds. Rather than trying to beat the 1:43 time, I decided instead to try to beat my own figure from my 17%, as Segment 1 is directly equivalent between these two runs. I was able to rush through roughly 0.5 seconds faster than my own previous best.
There are a couple of tricks in this segment which will bear elaboration if readers are unfamiliar with them. A ghetto jump to the box in Industrial Site allows Samus to stand atop it; scanning the scan point to activate the cutscene will then cause the crane to carry Samus to the door, avoiding the need to go all the way around the room. In GFMC Compound, the "101% ghetto" allows me to collect the Missile Launcher without passing through the trigger point that activates the cutscene involving the fate of the Marines. Had I made this jump first try, it would have saved time outright, but that wasn't the point of it; the Emerald Translator gate covering the entrance to Sanctuary Fortress only appears once the cutscene has played. Skipping the cutscene causes this gate never to appear, which will save me time when going to Sanctuary much later on. It is possible to trigger the cutscene and collect the Missile Launcher twice (hence 101%), which would possibly have made some of the early boss fights faster, but it would have meant I would have had to have scanned the gate to open up Sanctuary later, which is quite expensive timewise.
This segment is quite annoying due to the above pair of tricky ghetto jumps that must be performed. Both of these jumps took me two attempts to land. The most glaring loss, though, was from failing to get an instant unmorph in the room with the Morph Ball cannon before Sacred Path. This disorientated me and forced an error in scanning the scan point to activate the cannon. I was so incensed by this that I decided I was going to rip through Sacred Path as I'd never ripped through it before. To my considerable astonishment, I completely nailed it.
Everything else went fairly well.
I save at the Temple, which the previous runner did not. Previously I quoted the venerable kip as saying that this save costs no time, because loading from the save causes the Temple already to be loaded, whereas if you roll through the room you have to wait for the door to open. In fact, according to my timing, it does cost time, but very little — of the order of 1 to 1.5 seconds (provided you are able to force an instant unmorph when leaving the save alcove). This cost is completely consumed by being able to achieve a very fast Splinter fight in the next segment.
- Segment 2 - Alpha Splinter to Agon Wastes
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 9.4 seconds
Saved: 5.97 seconds (compensated)
I added 40 frames onto my time for this segment to penalise myself for saving in the Temple. The above figure incorporates this adjustment.
The key to getting a fast Alpha Splinter fight is in the first stage, where you need to land as many shots on more than one Dark Splinter as possible using peripheral "splash" damage. I could kiss the Splinter who jumped gaily from behind me into my missile shot. It is vital to get a missile refill during the first round to enable the fastest possible third round kill, which I did. My rounds one and three were both faster than those in the 1:43, although my second round was slower by roughly one second.
In Collapsed Tunnel, I fail to get an instant unmorph, and my attempt to rollshoot the door open also fails, both of which would have saved time. In the 17%, I rolled partway through Industrial Site before scanning the Violet Translator gate, but this time I stayed unmorphed as I decided it was faster. My rollshot before the Agon elevator room worked, but it didn't save time, because the elevator room was still loading — typical. Collecting the missile expansion went reasonably well, although not perfectly.
I make a mistake in Agon by missing the save station door. This doesn't cost any time as far as I'm aware, because the room is still loading; it does however cost me a missile, which is unfortunate, as missile ammo is very tight early on, and refilling is expensive.
Time for some extended pain.
- Segment 3 - Agon Wastes, to Dark Samus 1
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 15.4 seconds
Saved: 15.6 seconds
This segment is notorious for its trickiness. AJ and Sparky's minute-saving trick to reach the Jump Guardian from behind means that a runner cannot save until before Dark Samus 1, making this segment about 14 minutes long. I completed 3 successful attempts at it, going first 5 seconds faster, then 9, then 12; only on the fourth completion was I satisfied with my 16 second improvement to the 1:43 time.
There is a faster way to climb Mining Plaza by using a series of horrid ghetto jumps, but they're so tough there was no way I was going to attempt them, and especially not in a segment of this length and difficulty. The two, simpler ghetto jumps I was brave enough to attempt went fine. I spend a short while lining the second one up, but that was infinitely preferable to missing it. I go looking for missiles by destroying a cache while I wait for the first rock bridge to drop, and again while walking to the rock face to prepare for the second ghetto. Both caches coughed up, although I only needed one of them to. If I failed to get a refill from either, I had to reset. The little dash off the rock bridge was in the previous run and saves a little time. Shooting the far door in Mining Station went reasonably but not brilliantly; you can only morph and start saving time by rolling once you've hit it.
In my 17%, I rolled up the side of the step in Mining Station Access; while it looks more stylish, it's slower, so I omitted it this time — unmorphing as soon as possible and shooting the door is faster.
Mining Station A was a bit of a mess. Since killing the pirates in here takes too much time (and consumes too many missiles), a runner's only real choice is to try to climb this room while being shot at. While the damage done by the pirates is not significant, being shot in mid-jump will most likely cause you to fail the jump, which is. I had to reset an awful lot in here. My attempt to take a shortcut from the box through the sandfall was wrecked by getting hit by a pirate, so it took two tries. I failed to lock on to the pirate on the pillar cleanly, so the little dash to the left I did using him didn't work properly. The dash jump off the Brizgee in front of the translator gate was not perfect, but at least I didn't fall. Finally, opening the door was not performed optimally (I turned to the right too much, meaning I had to strafe left before I could shoot the door and morph).
I bungle the Shriekbats in Temple Access; they should not have been allowed to hit me during my second jump.
The Bomb Guardian fight was fine. The two-round strategy requires the player to judge the strength of the shots used on the head so that neither round finishes early; you need to take off exactly half the energy bar per round. I found that light-medium, full, light, full was the right sequence of shot strengths; the ability to judge how much you have charged a shot by how long you've held down A is essential to success. This fight is hard because it's time-critical; failing to lock on to the head at the first attempt will cause the shot to be charged for too long, and it will then cause the round to end prematurely.
Back in Mining Station A, I use the roll jump suggested by tuomii to reach the pillar. This room has an annoying loading policy; if you climb the platforms on the left, the game will start loading another room, forcing you to wait for the door when you reach it. In the previous run, the runner bypassed this problem by using a bomb jump to the door, but this is quite slow. The roll jump represents an elegant solution to both of these problems, and is probably easier than the bomb jump anyway.
In Portal Terminal, I kill the first of the dark pirates with charge / missile combinations, leaving me five missiles to be able to kill the second while walking up the ramp to the bomb slot. One problem with doing this is that the pirates sometimes dodge missiles; this would have left me miles away from the target, needing to hit it with a long-range charge beam shot. Because of this, I fire the missiles slowly, checking each time that the last has hit before firing the next. It would have been faster to spam the lot as quickly as possible while hoping for the best, but I lost a perfectly good attempt this way at least once.
After activating the bomb slot, I push right on the stick rather than down-right. This gets me to the machine marginally faster than was done in the 1:43. TrueDiehardGamer's trick to bomb only the final block in the machine by slithering past the first block, unmorphing onto the platform and moving across the wall went perfectly.
With the portal enabled, I am fortunate in that a 10 missile refill from a dead pirate is still available for pickup. If I had a number of missiles not equal to either 10 or 0 at this stage, I would deliberately waste them so that I had none heading into the dark world. The rationale here is that if you have no missiles, the game is far more likely to give you a missile refill when shooting boxes/Bladepods/caches, and I want 10 for Jump Guardian. Collecting 10 in Portal Terminal works too, though.
On the other side of the portal, I open up the gate on the left using the bomb slot for use during the Sky Temple Key route later on. It is possible to let this gate cutscene play out while continuing to recharge energy in the safe zone (with no time penalty — cutscenes don't count), which is very useful in low%. I had enough energy, so I skipped it. My predecessor shot the light beacon before performing the bomb jump to the back Jump Guardian entrance, but this is just a waste of time if you have sufficient health, which I did. I use a double bomb jump rather than a 3BJ; it is less complicated, requiring no button mashing, and works fine provided you time the unmorph correctly. The awkward jump from the Bladepod to the platform went flawlessly.
If readers haven't seen this Jump Guardian strategy before, it relies upon the fact that the Jump Guardian is placed invisibly in front of the statue before the fight starts, and its energy bar may be drained by shooting its unseen, spectral form. In the 1:43, the runner relied purely on charged shots; using charge, missile, charge, missile etc. is about 10 seconds faster. One problem with this strategy is that hits tend to do variable damage; I think it is related to whereabouts on its body the Jump Guardian is actually being hit, but I don't know for sure. Regardless, often I faced a situation where the Guardian still had energy left even after I'd pumped what I was sure would be enough shots into it; this attempt was no exception. Because of this, I ensure I have a shot charged and ready to go as soon as the fight proper is activated so I can immediately remove whatever sliver of health the Guardian has left. On one occasion I lost 15-20 seconds here trying to finish this fight off because it had more energy left than I anticipated. This time, though, all was well, although I turned the wrong way to meet him as usual.
Back in the light world, in Portal Access, I feared accidentally triggering the cannon while attempting to grab the missile expansion; this never actually occurred, but it was always uppermost in my mind when doing this room.
In Mining Station A I lose a little time by pressing L too hard and accidentally locking onto something.
Central Station Access, the room with the pirates, phazon crates and missile door, usually goes wrong. True to form, I get knocked sideways by a pirate.
There are a lot of pirates to kill in Central Mining Station; one somehow moved all the way to the door by which I entered, which confused me briefly. The turrets went fine, although I left this room rather low on energy.
I roll into a force field in the Command Centre ball maze. (The game spells it Center, but the game is wrong — this is supposed to be the European version.) I was convinced this mistake was going to kill the timing for the rest of it, forcing me to wait 3 seconds for a force field later on. I was very lucky to get through unscathed. In the 1:43, the runner used a BSJ to get to the upper level after leaving the maze; I turned this trick down because I refused to attempt anything difficult after coming back from the dark world (more haste, less speed, as my father used to say). Instead I kill the pirates (one dodges a missile — I think it's impossible to do this segment without that happening at least once) and use the gate jump to reach the upper level, which is several seconds slower. I also fire my charged shot too soon at the pirate that spawns on the upper level, and it passes clean through him. This then forces me to waste a precious missile.
The door on this upper level is excruciatingly schizophrenic; sometimes I'd get to it and the next room would be loaded and ready to go, other times I'd have to agonise for 2-3 seconds while it made me wait. I think this probably depends on the path you take through the lower half of the room, but I don't know for sure. This time it opened immediately.
I abuse missile splash damage to open the hatch after passing through Security Station B before the door is visible. When scanning the panel behind the pirate, by far the easiest tactic is to aim the scan visor at the right side of the panel and wait for the pirate to move left. Back in Command Centre, an instant unmorph off the end of the upper platform allows me to shoot the door sooner.
In Biostorage Access, the room with the moving laser force fields, I could have used a missile rollshot to remove the missile hatch more quickly. I didn't realise until later in the run that the rollshot glitch could be used with missiles, but I'd probably just have screwed it up anyway.
I ignore the ghetto jump in Biostorage Station to reach the top platform, jumping off the boxes instead. It's slower, but foolproof, and I've been playing far too long without a save already. In the 1:43, the runner attempts this ghetto, misses it, and for some inexplicable reason then uses a much slower BSJ to reach the upper level. I dash off a pirate to reach the door more quickly. This didn't go perfectly, but some time was saved here.
After bombing the slot in Security Station A, I get a precious instant unmorph after rolling round the corner.
Bioenergy Production is always a bit of a scary proposition after such a long and tortuous segment. I have four missiles, and to beat two flying pirates reliably requires more than that. I'm not sure what happened in here; I don't know whether the missile I fired up in the air hit anything or not. The pirates were defeated pretty quickly somehow ! As always, it's essential to be in place at the scan panel before the cutscene so scanning can begin immediately afterwards. After scanning the panels to move the platforms, I take the long way round the pillar because I'm now out of missiles and need to suck in the refill to open the save station door. Since I also need more energy to survive the laser maze coming up, I have to shoot the boxes before the door, and one of them grudgingly obliges with a gold energy refill.
I atone for my sins in the 17% run by acing the laser maze in Ventilation Area B, and reach the save station with no further trouble.
Glad that one's over.
- Segment 4 - Dark Samus 1, Dark Beam
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 31 seconds
Saved: 3.5 seconds
Anyone trying to beat this run should be aiming for an 0:18 save here (I had 0:19). I was about 2 or 3 seconds too slow.
Killing DS1 is a simple matter of banging away at it until you get a second round in which it doesn't use any air attacks. If you can hit it with a missile (it usually defends itself if you try this), all the better, because you get two free charge shots afterwards. Deliberately running into the boss also helps, because it will then use its shield attack which forces it to keep still. I was lucky at the end of round one in that Dark Samus was very close to the point at which round two begins, so it wasted no time in getting there. Overall, my fight was over 3 seconds faster than the one in the previous run. The end of this fight is the first of two ugly moments in the run where I pause the game accidentally (I tried to skip the cutscene too quickly).
After opening the first two dark beam gates, I get a really lucky fast hit on the blue door.
In Doomed Entry, after having passed through the portal, a ghetto jump off the Luminoth corpse is the fastest way to reach the upper level. I played with trying to BSJ directly to the far platform; I also experimented with scan dashing across the gap, bypassing the middle platform, but the former wouldn't work and the latter was too slow. Opening the dark door took longer than it should have done (my first shot missed).
It's important not to lay the bomb to open the door in Dark Oasis too close to the Phazon crate ...
Lowering the pillar in Hall of Stairs is slow; jumping from the Bladepod is faster. My predecessor shot some of the 'pods in here for refills, which is really just a waste of time. Saving here is free, so you'd be stupid not to.
- Segment 5 - Agon Cleanup, to Torvus Bog
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 34.5 seconds
Saved: 5.13 seconds
This is another lengthy segment which takes me all the way to Torvus Bog (no Amorbis this time). I should probably have kept trying until I did better than this, but I wanted to hurry up and get to Boost Guardian. I'd spent a lot of time trying to best Boost Guardian in my single-segment attempts with four energy tanks and no Dark Suit; doing it with two tanks would be difficulty incarnate, so I wanted to get there as soon as possible.
I wait in the safe zone for the door to open. I almost ruined Phazon Site (the room with the crates, lifts and scan points) by trying to jump to the lift before the cutscene. Doing this means that once the cutscene finishes you have to wait to fall back to ground before being able to attempt the jump again; usually by this time the lift is out of reach, but I was lucky this time and just made it. Lighting up the light beacons on the platforms is really just a hangover from doing several low% runs; it's not really necessary in an any% and wasted some time. I would need a missile to open a hatch in a few rooms' time, so I am forced to grab one at the Bladepod near the door, which costs me time compared to the old run.
I scan dash across Watering Hole, which takes a little while to set up. Roll jumping would have been faster, but the edge of the platform is bumpy and it has a tendency to pop the Morph Ball into the air, ruining the instant unmorph.
Lowering and jumping to the pillar in Feeding Pit went reasonably if not perfectly. The door after collecting Light Beam takes a long time to open (why ?! I was only just in there !) so again I wait in the safe zone. It is possible to let this cutscene play out and recharge energy without penalty, but I had enough, so I skipped it. I roll towards the door in Feeding Pit rather than walking, which I think is faster.
Again, I wait for another door in Feeding Pit Access which gives me breathing space to scoop up more energy refills at no cost. Back in Doomed Entry, it is now quicker to lower the platform (versus the ghetto jump to it I did earlier), which went fine. I managed to shoot the dark door cleanly this time. In Dark Oasis, you need to unmorph earlier than you'd think would be ideal, otherwise you'll end up facing the door rather than the portal. Another tedious cutscene.
Back in the light world, it's faster to roll to the door, then shoot it. It doesn't open immediately, so the aim should be to get to the loading trigger point as quickly as possible, which means roll first, shoot later. I try to rollshoot the Security Station B door open, and fail. I do rollshoot the white Command Centre Access door open successfully, but gain nothing by doing so, as I have to wait for it. Previously I've seen runners (including myself) walk through Command Centre Access until they are within range of the light door, then shoot it; again, though, since the door doesn't open immediately, it is faster to roll immediately to the loading trigger point, then unmorph and shoot.
Central Mining Station was a complete mess. In here I need to collect the Beam Ammo Expansion behind the force field, the only one I'll collect in the game. (I actually considered skipping it, but decided that it would make Chykka too slow.) Setting up the roll jump to the central platform is fraught with danger. If you're morphed over the turret when the hologram reappears, the game will unmorph you for no reason at all. There is a very short time window after using the turret in which the roll Jump can be set up and performed. Time and again I'd misjudge this and the game would unmorph me just as I was about to roll off the edge. The camera is highly uncooperative too; you'll see me move back against the wall and then forwards after using the turret in order to keep it pointing in the right direction. I move the turret further right after blowing up the crate; I want to be facing the nearest part of the centre platform after exiting the turret to make the roll jump as easy as possible, but I do it far too carefully (read: slowly). On the centre platform, it's necessary to land on the nearer edge of the bar because some ghetto effect is required to make the horrible jump to the far ledge. I slip off the bar twice, but make the jump in the end. At least the instant unmorph to shoot the door quickly after collecting the expansion went well. This room was the number one cause of resets in this segment.
Another attempted rollshot in Central Station Access fails to work. In the 1:43, the runner unmorphs far, far, far too early in Central Mining Station and wastes buckets of time walking to the door. I just roll through and then nonchalantly rollshoot the door open. I grab the Energy Tank in Mining Station Access — these two tanks will need to last me all the way to Sanctuary.
I mess up the attempted roll jump to the door off the platform in Mining Plaza. Whatever.
Don't ask me why I turned the wrong way after taking the elevator back to Temple Grounds. I must have forgotten which room I was in. I successfully rollshoot open the far Agon Transport Access door. I hurdle the Luminoth corpse and then morph and roll; morphing immediately carries a risk of getting stuck on the studs behind it. Rollshooting the Temple Assembly Site door open fails to work.
It's faster, although more risky, to stay morphed and roll up the ramp in Temple Assembly Site. I rollshoot open the door to the Great Temple elevator successfully. In the Temple, I get hit twice by Lightfliers. This was careless and should not have been allowed to happen.
The Dark Beam rollshot to enter Hall of Eyes was perfect. I make the ghetto jump to the portal at the first time of asking. After proceeding through the portal, I perform the trick which makes skipping the Dark Suit possible; the Abandoned Base ghetto jump to the light portal. Ordinarily, a lengthy sequence would need to be negotiated in which non-Dark-suited players would die from dark world exposure, but ghetto jumping to the portal eradicates this requirement and allows access to Torvus without having to fight Amorbis. The gas clouds released in here, though, mean that I have two attempts at reaching the portal; if I miss the second attempt, Samus will die. This time, I make it first try, and proceed back to the light world.
Path of Eyes goes well; the sequence of tricks to avoid waiting for the light beam blocks to move caused no trouble. I nail another ghetto in here. My success in performing all the ghetto jumps in this segment cleanly was the main reason why this segment was eventually accepted, despite the Central Mining Station debacle. Had I got an instant unmorph before the Amber Translator gate, I would have been able to scan it sooner, but this is one of those things that just works sometimes and other times does not. Missing the door after jumping the gate was pretty lax and will have cost something like half a second.
Torvus Transport Access sees the only use in this run of the missile version of the rollshot — I use it to open up the elevator door quickly.
Once in Torvus, the 1:43 runner shoots all the Shriekbats to avoid being hit. I just roll on through them because I simply ooze machismo.
- Segment 6 - To Boost Guardian
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 39.63 seconds
Saved: 7.43 seconds
Going from the save point through the waterfall to the underwater log can be accomplished faster using a single jump, but I use a double jump, which is slower. Rather than rolling to the cage, the underwater dash move gets its first outing, which I believe to be faster. I attempt further underwater dashes on the far side of the cage, which fail, but I am not penalised because the next room has started loading by this stage, and still isn't finished by the time I get to the door.
One way in which the any% route might be improved here is by omitting the 25-second trip through Portal Chamber to open up the Great Bridge gate. This would mean taking the alternative Forgotten Bridge -> Abandoned Worksite -> Great Bridge path instead when leaving Torvus after beating Chykka; this might be faster, but it would definitely be more difficult. I stuck to the old route, partly because I wasn't sure at this stage what route I'd be using to collect the Sky Temple Keys later on, and I wanted my options (and hence my gates) open.
Back in Great Bridge, I employ a 2BSJ to reach the platform with the scan point. In the 1:43, a single-bomb BSJ was used, which is faster. I tried this, but it went wrong an awful lot, so I switched to the slower, higher version just so I could actually get past this point with some sort of consistency. This BSJ is very annoying because getting hit by one of the creatures in this room ruins the camera angle — reset time. I then dash to the bridge; on two occasions I dashed too well and sailed magnificently over the bridge and down the far side. From then on I watched my trajectory carefully and hit L to stop the jump once above the bridge.
I pondered collecting the Torvus Temple Energy Tank; this would have cost me roughly half my current lead, but would have made Boost Guardian easier. I kept this save around until after I'd beaten Boost Guardian so I had the option of cowardice later, but it proved not to be necessary.
The pirate fight in Torvus Temple was pretty shambolic; I miss one pirate with a charged shot, then he dodges when I try to hit him again. I could have started firing a Super Missile sooner at the top of the elevator.
The game suffers from a horrendous bug in the Energy Controller. Sometimes, after picking up the Emerald Translator, Samus is unable to shoot. Changing beams doesn't help — the only panacea is to morph and unmorph again. This also happens when picking up the Cobalt Translator in Sanctuary later on. Words cannot express how much pain this bug caused me. This time, I manage to turn round and shoot the door pretty cleanly.
Back in the Temple, I stay morphed until I hit the ground, then unmorph. I'm pretty confident this is the fastest way of doing this room. Trying to scan the emerald scan point while still falling may seem faster on paper, but the jolt caused by falling such a distance unmorphed costs a lot of time. Having descended the elevator, I try to do a short dash off the cache to the morph ball tunnel entrance, and fail. This was frustrating, because it really isn't hard at all.
No instant unmorph before the Super Missile door.
Climbing Hydrodynamo Station to save is expensive, so I don't do it. The bulk of my time gains versus the old run in this segment occurred in this room. My predecessor spent an eternity lining up the underwater dashes needed to reach the scan points and break the lower Torvus sequence; I just drop in and get straight to business. I also turn and begin scanning the scan points before landing, which is faster. I use an extra underwater dash to approach the third scan point below the Seeker door. Overall my performance in Hydrodynamo is very slick, saving 10 seconds over the previous run. I do drop straight into the Blogg at the bottom of the room and ruin my aim on the blue door, which is a shame. Having opened up the Alpha Blogg room without going halfway round lower Torvus, I can now proceed to collect the Gravity Boost. Another underwater dash at the bottom of the Hydrodynamo Shaft staircase gets me to the door quickly. A final, triumphant underwater dash simultaneously nets me the Gravity Boost and removes my ability ever to perform this trick again !
In order to perform the BSJ to skip Alpha Blogg, it's necessary to turn round so the wall is behind Samus. The speediest way to do this is just to roll into the wall, bounce off, and unmorph. I have to wait for Alpha Blogg to complete its attack, then I rattle off the BSJ first try and escape without completing the fight. So long, you big ugly fish.
Aside from the Gravity Boost, which I need to escape lower Torvus, the other item I must pick up here is the first key to open Chykka's temple, so back in Hydrodynamo Shaft I take the portal into the dark world. I have the wrong beam selected, so I waste a second changing it.
I think it's faster to jump up the stairs in Hydrodynamo Shaft rather than using the Gravity Boost as I did. I only realised this when I was trying to improve this segment further; eventually I gave up and accepted this attempt because I could never do Hydrodynamo Station as well as I did it this time. I save five seconds over the 1:43 getting out of Hydrodynamo Station and back to upper Torvus, basically by refusing to turn around, facing the same way all the time. I collect the Missile Expansion in front of the Seeker door — it might perhaps have been quicker to collect the one under the grating in Underground Tunnel instead, where I am next headed.
There is a sequence of tricky jumps that makes skipping the Torvus Grove pirate fight possible, but I achieved no consistency with it, so I decided just to fight the pirates instead, with disastrous consequences. Firstly I get hit by a grenade immediately (a random, unavoidable occurrence). I am fortunate in being able to freeze both pirates with a single dark shot, but then I waste the advantage by somehow missing the second pirate with a missile at point blank range. This flustered me, so then I failed to turn round to face the door before the cutscene, costing yet more time. I know I'm getting towards the end of the segment at this point, and I'm nervous, so I stupidly switch beams instead of scanning the portal. All things considered, I should probably have skipped these pirates after all.
The old run employed a single bomb BSJ to reach the Polluted Mire save station door; I refused to ruin the segment at this late stage by goofing this, so again I use the more conservative, slower 2BSJ.
- Segment 7 - Boost Guardian, Owned In The Face
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 47.06 seconds
Saved: 10.4 seconds
This is definitely one of my favourite segments in the run, and was one of the most difficult. Most players struggle against Boost Guardian even with the Dark Suit and more Energy Tanks than I have here. Because I'm using the one-round strategy, I get no energy refills during the fight, and since I shoot the puffers before the fight rather than afterwards (this is much faster), I am entirely reliant on Boost Guardian dropping a large number of energy refills after its death to give me the energy to make it back to the save station. Needless to say, I was stuck here for some time.
The first improvement here was in just rolling past the Lightfliers instead of converting them into safe zones using the Dark Beam. I successfully rollshoot open the Dark Arena Tunnel white door. Dark Arena Tunnel is fine; in Dark Torvus Arena I light up the beacon and morph into it. Morphing carries Samus further forwards and guarantees entry into the bubble. I let this cutscene play out while I sit and recover about six energy units in the safe zone.
I am at the mercy of the random number generator as I suck in the refills provided by the puffers; they were good to me this time.
Boost Guardian itself was near perfect. This strategy involves keeping the Guardian in its puddle form by following it carefully round the room, never giving it space to stand up again and thereby ensuring that it stays vulnerable to light beam shots for the whole fight. The ability to anticipate its direction changes is essential to success, as is a healthy slice of luck.
Upon its death, Boost Guardian dropped no less than five energy refills. I have never seen this happen before or since — it usually drops some missiles instead, condemning me to a corrosive death-by-dark-world. Ironically, I would have much preferred one missile and four energy refills — I will need missiles in the next segment and do not currently have enough.
I almost bungle the halfpipe but just about manage to unmorph successfully in the alcove to collect the second Chykka key. Jumping from here to the door was imperfect; an instant unmorph before the white door helps to ease the pain. The only other slight blemish in this segment was unmorphing onto the save station rather than into it, but honestly, who cares ? Nailing this segment left me completely elated.
It would have been twenty seconds faster to skip this save and go straight over the fence in Dark Forgotten Bridge, proceeding to the Chykka save point, but it would take a much braver soul than mine to risk this. If only another cheap Energy Tank were available somewhere ...
- Segment 8 - Final Chykka Key
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 57.46 seconds
Lost: 1.77 seconds
This very short segment is the only one in the run in which I am slower than my predecessor. This happens because I need to pick up a missile refill to open a Super Missile door, and the segment is so short that there simply isn't an opportunity to recover the time. Everything goes well enough — I BSJ cleanly over the Dark Forgotten Bridge fence; the dash jump is fine, and for once the camera doesn't screw me over entering the Morph Ball tunnel before the final Chykka key. I find it much easier to dash to this key, but roll jumping is faster, so I had to suffer countless resets; it's also quite easy to perish from dark world exposure during this segment.
- Segment 9 - Chykka
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 55.69 seconds
Saved: 3.43 seconds
From a planning perspective, Chykka is a pain, because it's an extremely ammo-heavy boss, ideally requiring maximum everything. I really wanted to skip the trip to the ammo refill station at the start of this segment, which wastes (if I remember correctly) about 10 seconds. I could have used the fish in lower Torvus to recharge my Dark Beam ammo cheaply after the Torvus Temple pirate fight, but the Light Beam ammo I used against Boost Guardian would not have been so easy to replace, and nor would my missile stock. I could have exploited the Chykklings mid-fight to recharge, but it probably wouldn't have saved any time compared to using the ammo station, and would have been less reliable. In the end I just went ahead and refilled at the ammo station, because I couldn't see a sensible alternative.
Activating the "floaty jump" glitch would be another way of speeding up this segment, as it would make climbing the platforms at the end of the fight to reach the Energy Controller a lot faster. However, to extract the benefit of this, it would be necessary to beat Chykka without once being hit by dark water, which is not an easy proposition. I didn't bother trying, but a more determined player might be able to save time this way.
I get an instant unmorph before the ammo station and shoot the door, which is much quicker than using bombs as the previous runner did.
It is important to do as much damage as possible on the Larva stage with Light Beam shots. In order to beat the Larva form quickly, the boss's backflip attack must never happen, and whether this occurs is dictated at least partly by how much damage has been done to it, and possibly partly by luck. Don't ask me why I scanned it twice, because I don't know, but it didn't cost any time.
When the Larva form climbs onto the platform, there is a way to knock it back using fewer charged shots than I used here. However, I don't know how this is done; it must have something to do with shot strengths, where one aims, or timing. Nobody I asked had the answer, but it must be a repeatable strategy because in the old run it was achieved on both sub-rounds. Answers on a postcard. Because I couldn't figure this out, I lost 4.6 seconds on the Larva form compared to the previous run. I also went into the second round with only 11 missiles; indeed I had to forego finishing the Larva form using a Super Missile, relying instead on charged Power Beam shots.
Chykka was a struggle for me. In my low% games it was a fight I really enjoyed, but my times just weren't competitive in the any% scenario. To try to redress this balance, I looked carefully at the fight and tried to find ways to make myself faster. The first thing I realised is that a lot of time tends to be lost trying to get the first stun on the Adult form. After taking a wing off, it is quite easy to get a stun immediately afterwards, but the very first stun is always elusive. I realised eventually that Chykka's first movements are nearly always the same — left, up, right. Aiming at its expected position after it finishes this manoeuvre allows for a quick first stun, which worked out in this fight.
The second very obvious strategic improvement I introduced was scan dashing from platform to platform. When timing this segment, it is important to remember to subtract the time spent during "screen freezes" when the scan information appears (this doesn't count against a runner's final time — for me it was about 0.25 - 0.3 seconds per dash). I forget how much time the dashes save overall, but it's probably something like 6-7 seconds for the whole fight.
I didn't expect to be able to accept this segment because I reached the Adult form with so few missiles, but I was able to improvise using a combination of light and dark beams (my low% training coming good again). If you get lucky, using the dark beam is actually faster than using missiles is, so the depletion of my arsenal arguably saved me time in places (although it definitely cost me in others). Overall the adult form was beaten about 1.4 seconds faster than in the old run with the screen freezes having been taken into account.
I use the well known trick of rolling round the back of the bomb slot in the Energy Controller access room to reload the temple; this makes collecting and returning the Torvus temple energy unnecessary. Aether's loss is my gain.
Those good with numbers will notice that I'm about 3.2 seconds behind the old run for the Chykka fight itself; however, my instant unmorph to the ammo station coupled with better optimised play to and from the Energy Controller allowed me to save over 7 seconds elsewhere in this segment. They all count.
- Segment 10 - Temple Grounds Cleanup
Estimated lead: 0 minutes, 59.1 seconds
Saved: 6.23 seconds
I start saving time almost before I've left the save station — boosting into the dark water is quicker than what was done previously, although there's a very narrow corridor to hit; too far right and the Hunter Ing will hit you.
In Brooding Ground, it is possible to combine a boost with an instant unmorph to roll jump onto the far platform. I attempt this but fail, so lose a little time jumping up to the platform instead. The roll jump in Dark Forgotten Bridge to reach the centre platform was fine, though, and that's the important one to nail.
After passing through the portal to Forgotten Bridge, I save time by staying morphed and boosting all the way to the door. In Torvus Lagoon, I try to boost into the water and then boost out, which doesn't work because my first boost fails; I get a fortunate hit from a Grenchler though, which nudges me doorwards. The other boosts to the elevator go reasonably well but not spectacularly.
In Hall of
HonoredHonoured Dead I defile the Luminoth corpse by rolling over it to get to the first spinner more quickly. I execute the puzzle in here more cleanly than was done in the old run; more effective boosts between spinners and earlier bomb drops to leave the spinners are the main improvements. I also save time by opening the Seeker door at the first attempt.
On the way back to Samus's ship, in Service Access, two of my boosts are wasted by the uneven floor. Arguably the worst error in the segment occurs immediately before saving, in Landing Site itself. I had decided I was going to try boosting to the edge of the platform, then rolling to the right and roll jumping to the ship. A full boost will carry Samus off the platform and onto the ground below, so immediately upon releasing B to boost, I yank back on the control stick to bleed as much momentum as possible. Unfortunately, my boost is almost entirely scuppered by something on the floor, so this leads to the embarrassing situation where I'm actually travelling back towards the door briefly. I recover from this glaring loss and roll jump the remains of my shattered ego to the gunship. I made further attempts to improve this segment, but this one was the best I got.
I didn't really want to save here, because these "in-between" segments are not difficult, and saving at the ship is quite expensive. However, I felt it was important to ensure my ammunition supplies were refilled so I didn't run into ammo trouble later, so segment 10 ended here.
- Segment 11 - Temple Grounds Cleanup II
Estimated lead: 1 minute, 5.3 seconds
Saved: 3.43 seconds
From the ship, I wait until I've cleared the bumpy section on the floor before releasing the Boost Ball, so I can benefit from a full boost. Jumping from the step to the platform with the crate in Industrial Site is not quite as easy as it looks. In Temple Assembly Site, I want to head out to the dark world to scoop up the first Sky Temple Key (I can do this now I have the Dark Visor), so I shoot the light beam block. By jumping into the little alcove on the right, it is possible to squeeze through long before the block has fully moved, and I get a real stroke of luck when the block actually propels me into the portal at high speed.
Opening the Seeker door went smoothly. Lake Access (the tunnel with the purple Venom Weed) is always a horrible room to boost through, but it actually went quite well this time (on the way in, at least). In Accursed Lake, rather than waiting for the Ing Cache to get close enough that I can jump to it, I shoot it early and scan dash from the door to collect the Sky Temple Key. This was not executed particularly well at all, but I still think it was slightly faster than the older alternative.
I tap L immediately after the message box disappears to prevent myself from moving any further left, and then return to Lake Access. This time, the boosts through here are a total train wreck. Back at the light portal, I experimented with boosting into the room, bouncing off the wall and unmorphing to face the portal; timing this suggested that walking to the portal was actually faster, so I do that instead.
Returning to Temple Assembly Site, I make a hash of boosting to the elevator door — you can tell this by the fact that the door opens immediately. Optimally, it would have made me wait.
In Great Temple, I scan the Torvus gate and use the trusty cheap Temple save point. Again, I didn't really want to save here, but I have to recover the energy I lost in the trip to the dark world, and this is as quick a way as any.
- Segment 12 - The Sanctuary Fiasco
Estimated lead: 1 minute, 8.73 seconds
Saved: 10.87 seconds
If you watch this, you may wonder how on Earth I saved almost eleven seconds here. The answer is that it was mostly down to luck. Right at the end of this segment, I have to wait for the gyro ring to settle, and the amount of time it takes seems completely random. I could have played everything perfectly and got far worse times than this simply because it's up to the game how long it takes to finish halting the gyro ring. However, I am obliged to take whatever my fastest performance was, whether ugly or beautiful, and this was it.
Things start well enough; getting to the elevator was fine, as was Sacred Path. Locking on to the Seeker target in Sacred Bridge was fine, but I should have released the shot sooner.
The 101% ghetto I performed in segment 1 pays for itself now, as I can boost clean through GFMC Compound and straight to the door leading to Sanctuary without having to scan anything or wait for anything to move; the Emerald gate simply doesn't exist because the Marine cutscene never played. I hang up on the Sanctuary elevator door thanks to the turret, but it isn't too bad.
Once in Sanctuary, scanning the scan point while being shot by the turrets went quite well, although I accidentally paused the game afterwards. I hate doing this, partly because it looks amateurish, but mostly because it makes it necessary to fiddle the figures in my timing spreadsheets.
On the bridge, things go horribly wrong. All three pirates put their shields up simultaneously, meaning I can't shoot any of them; precious seconds tick away while I wait for one of them to relinquish his defence. The remainder of the fight goes well, but following the cutscene, I press A to open the white door and nothing happens. By this time I'm already morphed, so I have to unmorph and try again. Horrible.
Jumping off the Quad in Reactor Core takes a couple of tries, and is slow even when it works. The BSJ to skip the platforms in here works out. Five seconds can be saved in Hall of Combat Mastery by using a mid-air instant morph over a spider track (saves boosting all the way round the room), but these are difficult and I chose not to risk it.
I activate the Seeker puzzle in Hive Dynamo Works from the wrong side (you're supposed to Grapple across, but what do you know, I don't have the Grapple beam), which is always a slightly harrowing prospect as your energy ticks away from dark world exposure while you do it. This was accomplished a lot better than in the previous run. The game places Samus on the opposite side of the gap after the cutscene finishes. It also opens up the light portal, of course, which I now take.
A ghetto jump off the slanted wall in Dynamo Access makes it possible to jump over the Spider Ball track rather than taking the slower Morph Ball path under the floor.
Finally, I reach Main Gyro Chamber, and use SkippyJr's 3-arm-cannon-repositions solution to the coloured puzzle as opposed to the original 4-repositions solution. I slip out of the second bomb slot, but somehow the bomb stays stuck to the slot and I don't lose any time. Finally, the famous gyro ring settles in record time — 9 seconds quicker than it did in the old run. Lucky me.
I open the save station and save.
The next segment should be fun.
- Segment 13 - Who's Afraid Of Grand Abyss ?
Estimated lead: 1 minute, 19.6 seconds
Saved: 35.97 seconds
This segment is highly significant for a number of reasons. First of all, it is very difficult, incorporating a whole spectrum of tricks, some of which rank amongst the hardest in the game. Secondly, it is the first segment where I can begin starting to save some serious time over the 1:43, rather than nibbling at a few seconds here and there. Thirdly, and not unrelatedly, a detour in this segment to enable a portal allows a big route change later on. Pretty much everything I do here is a sequence break or sequence break enabler. The segment contains a number of mistakes, but the equivalent segment in the previous run contained significantly more. Even though the detour to open the Watch Station portal takes a long time (and in fact longer than it should have done), I was still able to complete the segment over 35 seconds faster than was done before.
I start by spinning open the gate in Main Gyro Chamber to allow me a shortcut in the next segment. In early attempts I forgot to do this; it was only when timing a successful completion of the segment I noticed I was much faster than the previous run through the initial stage. I was pretty upset when I figured out why.
Next, I'm off to leap the chasm in Watch Station Access backwards, probably the most famous sequence break in the game; it allows Screw Attack to be collected as the first item in Sanctuary Fortress. Using either a scan dash off the white door or a roll jump, it is possible to get far enough across the gap that the terminal fall will spawn Samus on the far side. I used to cross this room by dashing, but this is slow; the roll jump method is faster, so I joined the roll jump hordes for this run. First mistake — on reaching the far side, I was convinced I hadn't actually cleared the gap, so I morph for another attempt, before realising that actually I'd been successful. While this looks extremely ugly, it is important to realise that the next room is loading while I'm merrily goofing off. This mistake did cost time, but not nearly as much as one might expect: I'd only have had to wait for the door to open anyway.
The aim in Watch Station was to open up the gate blocking the portal — this would enable me to use this portal to return quickly to the light world after beating Quadraxis later on. I've seen various estimates of how much time this saves. My measurements indicated that this wouldn't save anything like as much time as some people were claiming; in fact I wasn't sure it would even save time at all. I deliberated over whether to add yet another difficult trick to a segment already overflowing with them, but eventually decided that if nobody ever did it in a run, we wouldn't actually know how much time it did or did not save. To open the portal gate without Spider Ball, one of three methods must be used to jump up to the spider tracks in front of the bomb slot. The ghetto jump method is probably the most straightforward but is also the slowest. It is possible to use a BSJ, but I plumped for the original Rezbit jump method, which involves convincing a Rezbit to raise its shield and then jumping onto the shield, using it as a stepping stone to reach the spider track.
I use the last of my missiles killing the first Rezbit. I make a slight mistake in that I fire one too few uncharged dark shots into the second Rezbit; after jumping on its shield and to the spider track, my second charged shot ought to have killed it. It didn't, so I waste a second or two killing it with the Charge Beam instead. Incidentally, staying locked on to the Rezbit makes this jump much easier; this way, you can see the edge of its shield.
Having reached the spider tracks, I move into position, line myself up by shooting the power beam, and then perform the backwards jump and instant morph into the bomb slot. This is a real 'feel trick'; you just have to develop a sense of when to morph to get the instant morph effect. Some people have a lot of difficulty with it, but I've never found it that hard. Bombing the slot now makes the portal available for use. Usually the second Rezbit gives me missiles, since I don't have any, but this time it didn't — this slice of bad luck would lead to problems later. Now it's off to Grand Abyss, the most notorious room in the game.
In order to collect the Screw Attack without the Grapple Beam, it is necessary to either dash jump or roll jump from the tip of the left-hand barrier to the nearest maintenance drone on the left as you enter Grand Abyss. Standing on the robot, you can wait for it to carry Samus to within Space Jump range of the far platform. This trick is difficult, but it is made all the harder by the fact that the robots never return to their original positions once activated; mess up and you have to reset.
In the previous run, the runner used a roll jump; in my "banned" 17% run I discovered that it was far easier to dash jump to the robot. However, it requires a perfect jump. When I got to this point in the run, I experienced my months of proclaiming on the metroid2002 forum that this trick was easy coming back to bite me — I just couldn't do it any more. The key to getting the best dash jump is related entirely to the timing of pressing the R button to freeze Samus's momentum. There is a very short window of a few frames in which R must be pressed in order to be able to make this; timing it successfully is rewarded immediately with a jump exhibiting a lot more "float" than an imperfect dash jump would. Since I could no longer execute this trick with any reliability, it was time to go and practise dash jumping. Funnily enough, the best place to do this is in the very next room I would be visiting in the run — Vault.
In Vault, in order to collect the Screw Attack without visiting the dark world, one of several tricks must be used to jump from the entry platform to one of the two spinners on either side. My preferred technique is to dash jump across the gap. This dash doesn't need to be "perfect", like the one in Grand Abyss does, but it still needs to be good. There are two advantages to using this room to practise dashing instead of Grand Abyss: i) a player can see much better how well they dashed by just observing how far onto the spinner platform they got; and ii) if you miss the platform and fall, you can just try again. Since I'd have to do this Vault dash jump after Grand Abyss anyway, it seemed like the best way to learn to do both dash jumps at the same time. I realised quite quickly that I was actually pressing R too late. 20 minutes in Vault was enough to get my mastery of Grand Abyss back, and soon I could land on the robot something like 10% of the time, which was enough.
Not that I felt any less nervous when I actually perched Samus on the robot. Rather than waiting for the robot to carry me within Space Jump range of the far platform, as has been done in previous runs, I decided I wanted to save time by using a second dash jump to reach the upper ledge. On several occasions, I would start this second trick and then have one of the maintenance drones fly into me and ruin the jump. Red Scarlet suggested that I should blow up the offending drone before I crossed the trigger point that made the robots move (the trigger point covers the end of the entrance tunnel); while I admired the violence inherent in this solution, I eventually decided just to wait a little longer before beginning the second jump, giving the second robot time to pass me. The second dash went really well in this attempt; often I'd miss the upper platform. While this isn't a dealbreaker, because the terminal fall still spawns Samus on the far side under these conditions, it would have cost time. On to Vault, then.
I commit two sins in Vault; firstly I elect to kill the Rezbit (not strictly necessary) and make a complete mess of it, which was largely a product of nerves coupled with the fact that the second Rezbit in Watch Station didn't give me a missile refill. Secondly I miss the dash to the spinner at the first attempt, although this is never straightforward. The rest of the room goes well, including the boost unmorph going from spinner 2 to 3. To get back on the central platform to activate the bomb slot, another dash or roll jump is necessary, and I opted for a dash off a Rezbit. Depending on Samus's height when the terminal fall grabs her, the game can either spawn her on the upper platform (slow) or the lower one (fast); I didn't know which it would be on this attempt, so there is a moment's hesitation after the terminal fall while I try to figure out where I am. I was on the lower platform, which enabled me to get to the bomb slot very quickly. In the old run, the runner managed to get an instant morph into this slot — I didn't.
The next job is to head down to Transit Station, where an early Power Bomb expansion is just waiting to be collected out of sequence. The game wants players to go back to Torvus Bog to fight the Power Bomb Guardian to get the main Power Bombs before continuing further in Sanctuary, but collecting this expansion instead obliviates the need for a lengthy detour. My nerves are apparent at the door to Main Research, where I unmorph and then morph again while I wait for the door. When screw attacking from one Main Research door to the other, it is important to allow your space jump to carry you below the level of the ledge you're jumping off, or there is a very real risk that Samus will strike the wall above the far door and bounce off.
I kill the turret rather too slowly in Transit Station. The fastest way to reach the high platform in here is to ghetto jump using the curved edge of the cubicle and then screw attack across, but I achieved much better consistency with a 3BSJ, so I used that instead. I take a moment to compose myself before screw attacking into the morph ball tunnel leading to the Power Bomb Expansion. This isn't terribly difficult with some practice, but I'm under a lot of pressure, which tends to destroy my ability to time tricks like this successfully. The 3BSJ back up again works perfectly. Since the camera can be very annoying when morphing to escape via the tunnel, I spend a second or two manipulating it to make sure it plays nicely. I probably shouldn't have bothered to destroy the second turret.
The final trick that needs to be done in this segment to make it back to the save point is the mid-air ghetto instant morph through the spider track hole in Hall of Combat Mastery. I found the best way to make this work is to flick the control stick forcefully backwards and then forwards when starting the second jump. When approaching this point, it is very important to unmorph early and walk past the Quad; if you accidentally boost into it, it will pester you throughout your attempts at getting through here. I had to throw away at least one perfectly good attempt at this segment from being greedy with the Boost Ball. I am agonisingly close to getting through the space first time, but I make it on the second try.
In the old run, the runner collected a Power Bomb refill at the top of the elevator. I don't bother, because I know that there is an alternative way to destroy the debris blocking the second set of slots in Main Gyro Chamber, so I simply return to the save point.
Another horrible segment over.
- Segment 14 - Arachnophobia
Estimated lead: 1 minute, 55.57 seconds
Saved: 19.27 seconds
My Spider Guardian fight contains an ugly assortment of mishaps while getting from puzzle 3 to 4, but these don't cost as much time as you might think they would, for reasons I'll get to. Overall, this fight was very fast, as evidenced by the 19 second saving over the old run in this segment.
I'm not sure anyone else realises that the debris at the top of the Main Gyro elevator can be destroyed using Screw Attack rather than Power Bombs. Neither bomb slot worked very well, but the Gyro disc decided to settle quickly, so I elected not to reset.
Heading to the Temple, I save time after killing the Quad by jumping over the barrier and boosting to the Temple door. In the old run, the player screw attacked to the door, but the Temple begins loading when Samus touches the lower floor section, so it is fastest to hit the floor as quickly as possible.
In the Temple, I am slightly too cautious while trying to screw attack to the boxes to pick up a Power Bomb refill, coming up short. There is very little margin for error here; too short and you'll miss the boxes, too long and you'll slide over the edge. I waste several seconds shooting the boxes when my screw attack fails to destroy them. This comedy of errors continues when my shot to open the Energy Controller Access door misses by a whisker, and then my scan to collect the Cobalt Translator goes horribly wrong.
Once again I am at the mercy of the Translator "haha you can't shoot any more" bug, which mercifully doesn't occur this time. Having opened the Cobalt gate, I manage to get an instant unmorph by boosting round the corner, which the previous runner didn't.
Spider Guardian puzzle 1 was fine, although I lay a bomb slightly too early after boosting up the incline to the bomb slot, which wastes a second or so. For the start of puzzle 2, I change my grip on the controller so I can lay three bombs in a very short time by drumming the tips of my ring, middle and index fingers across the A button in quick succession; this was actually a tactic I developed to get over the Dark Forgotten Bridge fence in my 17% run using a "BSJ plus". It went perfectly here. Most of my gain over the previous run occurs on puzzle 3, where I save 17 seconds by catching the Guardian with 4 bombs before it's even had a chance to enter the puzzle.
Unfortunately, I misjudge my position on the half-pipe while the Guardian is crawling towards the force field, which leaves me stranded at the bottom when the cutscene finishes. Ideally, I would be waiting for the Guardian as it crawls down the section before the crates, but this timing problem means it is ahead of me. This leads to a scrappy sequence where I try to catch it to bomb it while it knocks me back repeatedly. Although this looks very ugly and slow, it is important to remember that the Guardian is still moving towards the fourth puzzle section, covering distance that it would have had to have covered anyway (although at a slightly slower speed than if it had already been stunned). Therefore I measured the time lost here as being less than 3 seconds, which really isn't too bad.
Puzzle 4 wasn't quite perfect but it certainly wasn't bad either.
It's necessary to get a Power Bomb refill from the Spider Guardian after it dies, so the second Sky Temple Key can be collected immediately after the fight (in the natural route, you would come back for this after beating Power Bomb Guardian). I get the refill and proceed through the yellow hatch into the dark world.
Rather than using the Spider Ball to cross the orbs, it's faster to jump to the lip of the Morph Ball tunnel and screw attack across the room to the ledge, although this can easily go wrong if you try to screw attack too often. I grab the second key without problems and backtrack. I try to get an instant unmorph rollshot to open the blue door, but neither the unmorph nor the rollshot works, so I have to shoot the door normally.
The remainder of the segment passes largely without incident. The Diligence Drone on the way back to Main Gyro Chamber is cooperative and gives me the Power Bomb refill that I need for the next segment, so now I can save.
- Segment 15 - Back In Black
Estimated lead: 2 minutes, 14.84 seconds
Saved: 4.43 seconds
This was an tricky segment for me, but it turned out very well. Until I attempted it, I'd only fought Dark Samus 2 once before in my life, when I originally beat the game. Every completion since then had been a low% of some sort: 21%, 20%, 17%; I skipped the Echo Visor in all these games, so this wasn't a boss I was familiar with at all.
Beating Dark Samus 2 quickly relies on two things: i) never allowing it to enter Morph Ball mode, and ii) persuading it to keep still so that the Dark Beam's secondary "ooze" damage can settle successfully upon it. (i) can only be achieved through luck, but I found myself using missiles a lot to achieve (ii). Like Dark Samus 1, Dark Samus 2 will stand still and raise its Phazon shield when confronted by a missile; this may be exploited to extend the damage done by the Dark Beam. The only downside is of course that it costs precious missiles.
Anyway, back in Main Gyro Chamber, I save time straight away by rolling onto the Gyro ring rather than unmorphing and remorphing as was done before; this is risky, because I was at the mercy of a camera perspective change, but it saves a couple of seconds.
I pop the yellow hatch using the Power Bomb the Diligence Drone gave me in the previous segment. As the previous runner did, I take the opportunity in Checkpoint Station to refill my dark ammo at the boxes, but I shoot fewer of them and activate the far door more quickly. Had I received a missile refill from the second Rezbit in Watch Station, or just not bothered killing the Rezbit in Vault at all, I could probably have avoided doing this altogether. I also roll into the tunnel rather than walking, which is faster.
Dark Samus 2 will pick one of three actions when the fight starts; it will either enter Morph Ball mode (time to reset), start laughing (this can be salvaged), or use its phazon beam attack (preferable). I deliberately aim away from the boss so the uncharged dark shot that precedes the charging of my main dark shot doesn't hit. This is in case Dark Samus 2 laughs; if hit by a dark shot it will stop laughing and dodge, which means a reset. It is possible to finish the first round immediately in the laughter case by using a partially charged dark shot followed by some other attack, but it's not a sure thing, or at least I found no way to make it so. The Phazon beam (which it used here) is the ideal case, allowing a certain instant stun, because the secondary "ooze" Dark damage is guaranteed to hit.
In the second round, I simply use charged dark shots punctuated by missiles. I also run into the boss to try to convince it to put up its Phazon shield so the Dark ooze can hit it. It changes emission spectra twice, but that's okay — it is easy to hit when it does this. This fight was about 1.5 seconds quicker than the one in the 1:43. I lost half a second on the first round, but gained two on the following round.
Boosting to the dark portal is always something of a concern; I fell off here several times. I use a Dark rollshot to unmorph and open the portal simultaneously. In the dark world, I save more time by unmorphing sooner than the previous runner following the "stickyboost" trick. After collecting the Echo Visor, a short dash to the right off the second Sonic Lock saves a fraction of a second getting to the elevator hologram.
I'm really not sure what the fastest way back through Checkpoint Station is. I tried equipping the Echo Visor, locking on to the drone and using it to dash towards the door before destroying it, but it is very hard to know where the door is with the Echo Visor equipped. In the end I just elected to shoot it and morph. In Main Gyro Chamber I save time by falling and then screw attacking to the lower level. The camera suffers one of its quirks before the boost to the dark door, so I lose a moment here.
Shooting the Sonic Locks in Hive Dynamo Access went reasonably. I get owned by a vine trying to screw attack across to the save station door, and I was quite annoyed about this, but I was lucky enough to land on a platform; I could easily have fallen and had to reset, so I should probably count my blessings.
All things considered, I was quite pleased with this one.
- Segment 16 - Payoff
Estimated lead: 2 minutes, 19.27 seconds
Saved: 1 minute, 3.87 seconds
I originally beat the game with a time of 1:39. I was very disappointed with this, because my analyses indicated a mission final of 1:39:15 or so, meaning that if I'd stood around for 45 seconds doing nothing, I would still have achieved the same figure. I wasn't at all sure I'd be able to improve my own times on the final bosses by 15 seconds to get 1:38. I had a save before Grand Abyss, but I didn't want to go all the way back there and try to improve the Sanctuary segments, because they are very difficult. However, I could go back to before Quadraxis, and try to scrape together another 15 or so seconds from that point onwards. Quadraxis is not particularly difficult in any%, and everything from there is basically just cleanup.
Red Scarlet wouldn't let me settle for anything worse than 1:38. Radix suggested I should keep trying for another week and see how it went, so I did. Since I'd had plenty of practice at these final segments, they actually didn't take long to redo at all; I improved them in two days, achieving a 20 second revision by the time I reached the Sky Temple for the second time. I was also able to fix up various unforeseen problems I'd had with ammunition shortages in the final stages by redoing these segments. Ironically, in the end I beat the final bosses quickly enough that I would have scored 1:38 with my original save, but going faster isn't something one should complain about in a speed run.
This segment features two route changes over the 1:43. Firstly, since I opened up the Watch Station portal in segment 13, I can use it to return to the light world after Quadraxis much more quickly. Secondly, XtraX suggested an alternative route (via Transit Station) to get from Sanctuary Temple to Reactor Core after returning the Temple energy, which he timed as being 25 seconds faster than the route used by the previous runner. These route changes, a faster Quadraxis battle, and ensuring I didn't run out of ammo to use with the Annihilator Beam enabled a saving in excess of one minute.
Two boosts and an instant unmorph out of the save station provide the perfect start. I don't need to collect the Ing Hive keys to open the key gate; thanks to XtraX, I just BSJ over it, saving several minutes. Since Quadraxis's room takes forever to load, I have plenty of time to top my Light Beam ammo up using the caches while I wait; the game plays nicely and also gives me 10 missiles.
There really isn't too much to say about Quadraxis round 1; it's just a question of knowing the order in which the knees light up, sucking in refills to avoid dying (remember, I have no Dark Suit), and avoiding its attacks where possible. Round 2 was quite poor — I wanted to shoot the rearmost antenna on the head first, because that is usually the hardest one to hit, and it's easier to do it straight away rather than when you're being bothered by a Quad. However, I locked on to the wrong antenna several times, so this took a while. For the third antenna, I move to another section of the broken body structure to try to avoid the Quad, but the head ends up going the opposite way, so I have to chase it. Annoyingly, if I'd shot the right antenna instead of the rear one first, I wouldn't have had this problem.
In order to preserve a handful of Light Beam shots for use with the Annihilator Beam after the fight, I decide to use a Super Missile plus one charged Power Beam shot to stun the head in the third round, which is slightly slower than using a single charged light shot. One of my shots misses, so I am forced to recover using a missile, costing time. I accepted this fight because the head was cooperative in the boost phases of the third round; I had to wait very little time for it to move opposite the Spider Ball tracks so I could boost onto it. This was the main reason why this fight beat the one in the 1:43.
After I collect the Annihilator Beam and grab the Temple energy, I am unable to reprogram my brain into remembering that the Hive Controller Access door is an Annihilator door, and lay bombs to try to open it. When you've been in and out of identical rooms for the entire game, it is very hard not to do this. I unmorph and shoot it eventually.
I risk a dangerous screw attack across the dark Temple from the Hive Controller Access door to the Temple Security Access one. It is very easy to botch this, and safer to go back to the central platform first, but fortune favoured the brave on this attempt. I ignore the Ingstorms — they represent no real threat. Screw attacking across Aerial Training Site to reach the portal can also go wrong; the game likes to spawn Dark Pirate Commandos in mid-air, and running into one causes the screw attack to fail, which is very expensive. I get lucky this time and make it to the portal unscathed, returning to Watch Station.
Watch Station goes well; I needlessly rollshoot the Temple door open in Sentinel's Path. I'm using the Annihilator Beam for most of this section, because I just couldn't be bothered to memorise the beam changes, and they would have cost time anyway. In the Energy Controller, I bullseye the door and morph before the message box pops up. Back in Sentinel's Path, I have one of my idiotic moments and change to the Power Beam (correct), before thinking better of it and changing back to Annihilator (incorrect). It costs no time, though — just ammunition.
In Central Area Transport West I have another of my idiotic moments and forget which way I want to move through the Morph Ball slots; ugly, but not massively expensive. In Transit Station I try to be too clever, headbutting the roof of the cubicle to achieve an instant morph, but this fails, costing more time. I have the wrong beam equipped at the door to Sanctuary Entrance, but I don't think this costs very much time at all, because the room takes a moment to load anyway. The game doesn't let me boost until much later than I wanted to on the bridge. The boosts through Temple Transport Access are fine.
Back in Temple Grounds, I make a horrid mistake by laying all three bombs against the wall rather than the door, so I have to wait for my stock to refill. In GFMC Compound, it might be possible to achieve an instant morph by jumping into the ceiling before the rock tunnel, but I didn't do this. The rest of the segment is unremarkable; I save in the Temple again.
- Segment 17 - Cleanup I
Estimated lead: 3 minutes, 23.17 seconds
Saved: 19.67 seconds
This is the start of several segments' worth of cleanup. I just lifted Silent Echo's cleanup route wholesale from the 1:43; I couldn't see a faster one. I collect the Light Suit and the upper Torvus Sky Temple Key here. Most of my gain in this segment comes from skipping the Beam Ammo Expansion that was collected in the 1:43; since I'm going to use Screw Attack against Emperor Ing 3, I won't need it.
Getting to the Temple door is okay, and the boosts across the Temple are fine. The important thing here is to have a boost ready once you hit the central circular decoration; you'll then get full effect from two boosts to the door. When collecting the Light Suit, there is an interesting quirk involving the Boost Ball. If you morph, boost, and unmorph to collect the Light Suit, it saves about 0.3 seconds; however, it then means that you can't morph and boost into the warp hologram (the boost doesn't charge quickly enough). However, if you walk to the Light Suit, the boost into the warp hologram works, and that saves 0.3 seconds too. It seems you can do either but not both.
I warp to Torvus. The dash in the Energy Controller was something I added when I came back to revise this segment in search of another 15 seconds to get 1:38; ideally it would have propelled me all the way into the loading trigger zone for the next room, but it goes imperfectly here, and then I compound the sin by boosting blindly into the wall. I should have kept it simple; these errors cost about 1.5 seconds.
I am much faster than my predecessor in Torvus Temple; I stay morphed and just boost through, unmorphing late to shoot the door. The BSJ in Abandoned Worksite allows me to screw attack across to the opposite side without using the slower piston. I unmorph too early (or don't boost well enough) when leaving the Morph Ball tunnel, so some time is lost while I walk to the far platform. I activate the dark portal in Forgotten Bridge using the Annihilator Beam; I'll be needing this shortly and don't want to mess around changing beams later.
In Dark Forgotten Bridge there are a few ways you could try to get to the yellow hatch quickly; in the light world you can stay morphed and just boost off the platform and up the shoreline, but there's a step in the dark world that makes this impossible, so I boost / jump / morph / boost instead; this seemed like the fastest way. I need a second Power Bomb to open the second hatch in Putrid Alcove, and this works out nicely, because I am now able to use my final two Annihilator shots to grab some Light and Dark ammo from the caches at the same time. I get the Power Bomb, so I open the second hatch.
In Poisoned Bog, I boost straight into the water and go after the Sky Temple Key. It is difficult to find enough fingers to walk forwards, charge a Power Beam shot and change back to the Combat Visor all at the same time, so I just leave the Dark Visor enabled even though this means I'm temporarily blinded; the cache is easy to hit anyway. In my original version of this segment, I turned around before walking back up the ramp and out of the water; in my quest for those elusive 15 seconds, I just walk backwards until I see a blue dot on the ground on the left. This is my cue to leave the water.
Getting back through Putrid Alcove goes well enough. Another improvement over my original attempt at this segment may be seen back in Dark Forgotten Bridge; previously, I saved before Power Bomb Guardian without any Power Bombs, so I had to shoot the fish on the way down the staircase to pick one up before I could open the hatch leading to the Guardian, wasting a number of seconds. This time, I unmorph earlier in Dark Forgotten Bridge and destroy two caches, sucking in the resulting Power Bomb refill with the Light Beam on my way up to the portal.
Boosting back round the corner in Abandoned Worksite isn't so wonderful, but I get the instant unmorph, which is the main thing. In Great Bridge I try as usual to boost straight onto the platform leading back to the Temple, and as usual I fail. The instant unmorph before the Super Missile door works, which is really quick, allowing me to charge a Super earlier. Jumping into the ceiling before the tunnel leading to the Lower Torvus elevator nets me the instant morph I wanted, saving more time.
In Hydrodynamo Station, I jump on the bars rather than the platforms to reach the save station, because this is faster.
- Segment 18 - Cleanup II
Estimated lead: 3 minutes, 42.84 seconds
Saved: 16.9 seconds
Again, a big chunk of time saved here was achieved by skipping a trip to the Agon ammo refill station. Instead, I refilled using the fish in lower Torvus on my way back to upper Torvus after Power Bomb Guardian; this saves something like 10 seconds and gives me enough beam ammunition to last the rest of the game. This was one of my better executed segments, I think.
Boosting from the save station, bouncing off the pillar and getting to the door at the very bottom of Hydrodynamo Station was a resounding success. I miss a boost coming down the staircase, but manage to get an instant unmorph at the bottom which probably makes up for it. After passing through the portal, my boost backwards to the yellow hatch is probably above average.
It is necessary to fight Power Bomb Guardian and collect the main Power Bomb powerup, even though I already have a Power Bomb expansion — otherwise, the floating Ing Cache in Dark Oasis never appears, so it is impossible to collect all the Sky Temple Keys. Annoying. I use Red Scarlet's familiar "stickyboost" strategy for this fight, which passes without incident, although I am frequently conservative, charging my boosts for longer than is strictly necessary. The bomb jump at the top allows me to get to the platform without trekking all around the room first.
I begin wasting ammo with the Annihilator Beam; the rationale for this is that I want to be under 20 for both Light and Dark ammo by the time I encounter the fish on the staircase. The fish are much more generous with beam ammo drops if you're already low, releasing vast amounts of the stuff; if you have plenty, they don't seem to drop more than 5 per fish.
Getting back to the portal, I don't bother turning; this leaves Samus facing the portal anyway. It should have been quite quick, but I botch the final jump. In the light world, I get an unexpected bonus instant unmorph and commit high speed piscicide with the Annihilator. 78/69 ammo is enough to finish the game.
I still need the Dungeon Sky Temple Key before I leave Lower Torvus for good, so I climb Hydrodynamo Station as efficiently as possible to reach the black door. Boosting through the tunnel is slightly imperfect; I am stuck between boosts on the ramp. Ideally one boost would carry Samus up and over the top. In Catacombs, the Grenchlers cooperate for once; they let me straight through the middle of them. I get a fortunate instant morph at the bomb slot and open the portal. These annoying creatures continue to be charitable by not pestering me while I jump to the portal. Thanks, fellas.
Dungeon goes slightly wrong in that I press L too early and the game doesn't pick it up, so I turn instead of strafing. After recovering, I use my own speed trick in here to light the second beacon immediately through the fence which saves me having to wait for it when I get there. Because I'm still fretting about bungling the strafe, I forget to switch to the Power Beam, so I end up destroying the Ing Cache with the Light Beam instead — probably marginally faster, but it costs ammo. Boosting out goes pretty well; I avoid the horrible problem that sometimes occurs with the camera in here. Back to the portal again. I get another instant unmorph in the tunnel on the way back to Hydrodynamo Station, and leave Lower Torvus without further incident.
It is possible to achieve an instant unmorph coming back out of the tunnel into the lower Temple section, but I'm unlucky this time. After rolling under the log before the Seeker door, I pull back before unmorphing which guarantees an instant unmorph here. It's a touch faster to boost a little way towards the elevator before unmorphing and scanning the scan point to activate it, so I do this.
It's been a while since I was last in Agon, but the place hasn't changed much. I open the Seeker door a little slowly. I hestitate at the top of the halfpipe, but that is because my position is critical. Start the BSJ too far back and it will fail; move too far forwards, and the camera will switch to show a long-range shot of the halfpipe, which is effectively segment over. Once in position, the 3BSJ -> dark shot -> screw attack sequence is actually quite easy. I could have screw attacked once more often than I did to take me directly into the portal, but I dislike screw attacking into portals because it sometimes triggers a nasty bug. Obviously this BSJ here saves time boosting around on the ramp.
In dark Portal Access, the triple screw attack over the wall patrolled by the Lightflyer works perfectly for once. Nine times out of 10 I would strike the rock face and bounce off.
JudgmentJudgement Pit goes really well too, and I am able to blow open the Super Missile door while still in the air. In Warrior's Walk I should have unmorphed sooner to begin charging a Super Missile; I am left waiting at the door for the Power Beam to come back online, wasting a second. I slip off the Ingclaw at the first attempt in Battleground, but get the ghetto jump to the platform with the cache first time. You won't hear me complain about this — that ghetto is really tough.
Screw attacking to the far white door always carries some risk. You have to do it high, because otherwise you'll strike one of the invisible floating platforms, but then there is a real concern that Samus will hit the face above the door and bounce off to ground level. I succeed, and then plough the road in Double Path with a charged light shot, destroying both Ing and allowing me a clear boost to the far door. Doomed Entry and Oasis Access both go very well.
My run of good form ends in Dark Oasis, where I carelessly allow Samus to bounce off the wall, so I'm facing the wrong way after unmorphing. This makes collecting the Sky Temple Key in here rather slower than it should have been. This is where I would have visited the ammo refill station had I not used the fish earlier on. I leave the pit and take the portal with no real problems.
In Main Reactor, I boost from the spiderball track to ensure an instant unmorph. The tunnels of Ventilation Area A to get to the Sanctuary Fortress elevator are difficult to do efficiently; too many boosts will carry the Morph Ball past the entrance, so you have to boost past the first creature and roll the rest of the way. Back to Sanctuary for the one key that remains here.
I bomb the glass tube with my final Power Bomb. Had I visited the ammo refill station in Agon, I'd have one spare for the next segment, but now I'll have to pick one up en route instead. In Culling Chamber I attempt an instant morph by jumping into the ceiling before morphing, but am unsuccessful. I cross Unseen Way and finally reach Hive Reactor. Sometimes my muscle memory would take over again here and I'd boost down the wrong side of the room, but all transpired more or less well this time, and the cache I bomb generously yields the Power Bomb refill I need for the next segment (had it not, I would have tried the other one ...) I pop the save station missile hatch and save.
- Segment 19 - Cleanup III
Estimated lead: 3 minutes, 59.74 seconds
Saved: 5.07 seconds (segments 19 and 20: compensated)
In the 1:43, and indeed in my original attempt, this segment and the next were combined into one, but I decided to split them at the cheap Great Temple save point in my quest for those extra few seconds I felt would be required to make 1:38. After getting the Boost Ball, using this save costs more time than it did at the start of the game — something like 3-4 seconds, but that was easily worth it. The time saved listed above is for segments 19 and 20, with a 3.8 second penalty added for the save. I collect the remaining Sanctuary Sky Temple Key (the other I grabbed out-of-sequence, directly after Spider Guardian), leave Sanctuary, return to Temple Grounds and collect one of the two keys remaining there. The segment goes very well with only a few minor blemishes.
One difficulty in this segment and the next is being able to grab sufficient missiles to open a pile of Seeker and Super Missile Doors while still having 20 remaining to be able to use four Supers on Emperor Ing's first form to enable a one-round kill. In my original attempt at this segment, I got far fewer missile pickups during the Quadraxis fight, so I had to fight to find enough missile pickups at zero or minimal time cost. This time I had more of them in the bank, but I'd still need to work for some. Because I need to kill two Ingsmashers on the way out of Sanctuary, and because they are very useful against Emperor Ing form 2, Power Bomb pickups would also be at a premium.
I leave the save station and boost to the yellow hatch, using the Power Bomb I picked up at the very end of the previous segment to open it. Boost unmorphing to the podium in Hive Reactor Access is easier than it looks — just unmorph late. Entrance
DefenseDefence Hall was the site of a bizarre incident I didn't fully understand at first. With 0 Power Bombs in my inventory, I boost through the Ing Larva swarm. Since the game is quite likely to drop Power Bombs if you don't have any, since it takes a few moments for pickups to spawn after a foe is killed, and since the Boost Ball takes Samus through the sludge very fast, it is quite common to get 3 Power Bomb pickups here. The game keeps dropping them if you don't collect the ones it's already provided. I am unlucky, only collecting one, but more on this in a minute.
Hive Entrance is largely unremarkable; I screw attack across, ride the light beam up, and collect the key. I am quite confident that I accomplish the task of leaving the upper level and returning to the door the fastest possible way here. Jumping off the left edge is quicker than jumping off the rear edge, and I time a space jump to break my fall so I don't get jolted by dropping too far. I change to the Light Beam before morphing, because I'll need it next.
What happened back in Entrance Defence Hall confused me for quite a while. There were frequently more Power Bombs available for collection right in the middle of the room, which happened on this occasion. This seemed strange for two reasons: i) I'd have expected any residual pickups to long since have disappeared after the trip to and from the key, and ii) I wasn't anywhere near the middle of the room when I encountered the Ing Larva swarm, so they must have been killed by something else. Only when typing up these comments did I go back in there and realise that actually they are killed by the light beacon in the middle of the room. Whether these are pickups that were left after my original pass through the room or whether the room gets reloaded and the Larva swarm is killed a second time, I don't know.
My eyes lit up when I saw the Nightbarbs surrounding the podium back in Hive Reactor Access, because I needed cheap missiles. When coming back through here the door to Hive Reactor takes something like 8 seconds to open, giving me a golden opportunity to stock up while I wait. Originally I tried shooting the Nightbarbs, but they are not particularly forthcoming with pickups and it takes too long to kill them all. After a while, though, I realised that lighting up the light beacon hidden by the dark blob on the podium kills the whole lot more or less instantly. I get as quickly as possible to the far side of the podium structure, which triggers Hive Reactor's loading sequence. Once this is done, I am in dead time and can suck in the resulting missile refills at my leisure. Had I not received enough Power Bombs in Entrance Defence Hall, I could have potentially topped these up here too; if I didn't have 3 Power Bombs by this point, I would be forced to reset. You may notice that I still end up waiting a second or so for the door; I wasted no time here at all.
Hive Reactor is time critical. It is essential to get two clean boosts into here and climb the platforms quickly; otherwise, the shortcut BSJ to the top level will be thwarted by Inglet attacks. When executing this BSJ, it's important not to move too far forwards or Samus will hit the underside of the platform above her.
Having pillaged Agon, Torvus and Sanctuary, I just need the three keys left in the Temple Grounds, so it's back to the light world in Culling Chamber for an uneventful trip back to Reactor Core. In here, I'm slightly paranoid about whether I'll have enough Light Beam ammo for the final bosses after the mistake with the Sky Temple Key in Dungeon, so I Dark Beam the boxes for light ammo and anything else the game feels like giving me in the couple of available seconds before the door opens. I use up two Power Bombs killing the Ingsmashers. It's necessary to wait just a moment before bombing the first one, or there's a danger you won't actually hit it. I have to wait before killing the second because the game won't let you drop two Power Bombs in quick succession. Eventually I can shoot the door and leave. I return to Temple Grounds with no trouble.
In GFMC Compound, there are two crates after the Morph Ball tunnel which are guaranteed to drop 5 missiles each — very useful. I have a moment while the next room loads, so I destroy the first one. I could have blown up both, but I have 42/45 missiles now, which is enough to complete the game without needing more. I take a shortcut using the hive in Sacred Path and enter the portal.
The next few rooms pass without incident. I deliberately leave the Power Beam equipped going through Reliquary Access; there's a white door to be opened, but it will make me wait, so I equip the Light Beam after I get there. The ghetto jump shortcut to the high door in Reliquary Grounds is awkward and cost me this segment several times, but it goes well this time. I catch on the door frame going into Ing Reliquary, which is disappointing, but not too bad. One key to go.
The game wants the player to go up the ramp back to the door, but it's faster to jump on the step in the rock face. Proceeding back through Reliquary Grounds can go horribly wrong; sometimes a Warrior Ing will completely block the tunnel, which would cost a lot of time and probably force me to use my remaining Power Bomb. Thankfully, they have better things to do this time than molest me. I tried to rollshoot the white door open, but it didn't work. I backtrack to the light world, hopping on the Bladepod this time to get to the portal.
Nothing much else to be said; I return to Great Temple, take the elevator and save in the familiar place.
- Segment 20 - Cleanup IV
Estimated lead: ? (see previous segment)
Saved: ? (see previous segment)
This is a short scrappy segment which only really existed standalone to enable making the previous one better. I know by now that I'm going to be at the Sky Temple with a lead in excess of 4 minutes, which is what I wanted, so I don't care about beautiful play in this one; I just want it done.
I take the Torvus-bound elevator in the Temple. Through the door, in Meeting Grounds, I wait to cross the studs before releasing the Boost Ball to achieve maximum effectiveness. At the far end of the half-pipe bottom, I get some serious air. My last rollshot of the run opens the Hall of Eyes door.
I make my way to the final key with minimal grace. Shrine Access, the room with the laser beams, is a mess as usual. I am able to pick up another missile refill while I charge a Super to destroy the green door, but I don't really need it. I screw attack to the final key for extra style points, but this is actually probably slower than boosting across to it and shooting it. I fail to lock on to all five points on the Seeker door, but I am able to recover by missiling it quickly afterwards, and the door opens.
I try something new to get to the save point in the Sky Temple — boosting over to the platform rather than walking. Had I unmorphed sooner it might have saved time, but I don't think it did here.
- Segment 21 - Emperor Ing
Estimated lead: 4 minutes, 4.81 seconds
Saved: 36.34 seconds
This boss fight can be done faster than this, but how much faster ? I don't think anybody knows. Thanks to Master ZED's incredible screw attack strategies for Emperor Ing and Dark Samus, I would save a minute plus over the old run in this segment and the next. I calculated my mission final time to be something like 1:38:40. Perhaps 40 seconds could be saved over my fight time on the final two bosses to get 1:37 with this save, but I think it would be a stretch, so I accepted "good enough" fights rather than mesmerisingly brilliant ones.
You can roll jump the gap from the save station to the door, but I couldn't be bothered with it. I screw attack once too often and bounce off something. Whatever.
Round 1 is stock; light beam and four Super Missiles finish it before the Emperor has had a chance to deploy his second set of tentacles. Round 2 is always horribly annoying, and it would have helped if I'd had more Power Bombs, but they are not easy to acquire in the closing stages of the run. I let the last tentacle knock me off deliberately, because I know I've punched its card.
Round 3 relies on the Screw Attack strategy. There are areas of thin air behind each of the Emperor's feet which, if screw attacked through, will damage him. This method is widely misunderstood, because it is completely counterintuitive to damage a boss by missing him completely. Many people think it's necessary to screw attack its heart or stomach or feet and achieve hits. You don't. Just pass through the spaces behind his feet and the fight will be over before he can ask "Dude, where's my Dark World ?" This wasn't even a particularly quick fight; some of my attacks missed. I'm certain that 10 or 15 seconds could have been saved.
The segment ends here because I kill myself before attempting the final Dark Samus battle. I use the "Continue from last save ?" checkpoint (which resets the timer !) to secure a sufficiently quick Dark Samus 3/4 fight. Before doing so, I returned to the computer and analysed the Emperor tussle, working out what the escape timer would need to have reached for me to have failed 1:38. Armed with this figure, I headed back to the GameCube.
- Segment 22 - Dark Samus 3/4
Estimated lead: 4 minutes, 41.15 seconds
Saved: 29.66 seconds
I pick "Yes" at the checkpoint and travel to the teleport. Again, the gap from the platform to the door can be roll jumped, but I'm just too lazy.
Master ZED's strategy for owning Dark Samus 3 and 4 is simple; use beams until it is about to change from Dark Samus 3 to Dark Samus 4, then get a lucky screw attack hit, which will knock up to half of its energy off. Since normally the only way to damage Dark Samus 4 is by collecting its Phazon, this screw attack (which takes a huge chunk of the Dark Samus 4 lifebar away) saves a bucketload of time. I accidentally walk too far backwards after pulling in one set of Phazon "snowflakes" and touch the Phazon at the edges of the room, causing me to lose my charge. This was careless and stupid, but DS4 generously sends another volley my way almost straight away, and I know I'm quick enough for my 1:38 target because I have the timer to rely on.
So, that's that. Saving five minutes over the old run is something I should be happy about, but I can't help but feel slightly disappointed. If I'd had a few months rather than a mere six weeks to work on this, I would definitely have got 1:37. Even now I feel a desire to go back to Grand Abyss (where I still have a save) and improve from there onwards, but I think my time would be better spent on other things.
That 1:37 and probably even 1:36 can be achieved is not in doubt though. Quadraxis, Chykka, Spider Guardian, Emperor Ing and Dark Samus 3/4 can all be improved significantly. A bolder individual would go straight over the fence after Boost Guardian; a more cunning one would manage their energy and ammunition more cleverly. I make many mistakes in segment 13 and throughout the rest of the run which could have been eradicated had I been more patient. There are several speed tricks I didn't use because I'm a coward, and I'm sure there are still some tricks yet to be found.
It is difficult to know what sort of times one should be accepting when the game on which one is playing is so woefully undercontested. I've provided all the information I can possibly think of in these comments — 20,000 words' worth of it — specifically because I want it all written down somewhere for potential future runners to have available. Certain aspects of this game are very frustrating, and it is not as immediately attractive as its beautiful older sister from a speed running perspective, but there is still some way to go before we're looking at times approaching their optima. Simply seeing the mistakes I made in this run should be enough to convince you of that.
Still, this will do for now. Until someone improves it, I hope you enjoy it.
Uploaded by njahnke on